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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 26th, 2014
05:53 PM ET

Former goalie: This is Tim Howard's World Cup

(CNN) – Three-time World Cup goalkeeper and member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame Tony Meola says he was one of the "crazy ones" who always believed the U.S. men's soccer team would get through the so-called "Group of Death."

"I looked and said, can Ghana beat us three times? I thought they could get at Portugal, and they did, and I thought it would come down to the Germany game," said Meola.

Team USA booked its place in the last-16 of the World Cup after escaping from one of the tournament's toughest groups. The team suffered a 1-0 defeat by Germany in Thursday's final Group G game, but still qualified thanks to Portugal defeating Ghana by just 2-1.

"They got the result they needed," he said.

Goalie Tim Howard had a tough game; Germany took 13 shots on goal, the U.S. took just four.

"Timmy for me had a clean game today," said Meola.

"When you're in a game and you're under pressure, you're defending with ten players and a team like Germany's pressing you, you always want to know you have a guy behind you that's solid," said Meola.

At 35 years old, this is likely the last World Cup Howard will play in.

"I said going into the World Cup, I thought this would be Tim Howard's World Cup," said Meola. "He's come up in spades for the U.S. team. And we're going to need him moving forward."

For more of our interview with Tony Meola, check out the video above.

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